Monday, 14 October 2013

How I live now/ Part One

The best thing about finding oneself in a sudden career limbo twenty years in is the exciting opportunity this offers to brush up one's self-marketing skills and reconnect with the fast paced, highly rewarding world of job-hunting and freelancing. 


Seriously. It isn't. Don't try this at home if you possibly can. 

Ah, the parsing of illiterate job ads, the wrestling with ancient websites to enter all your data - again -to extract fiendishly hidden application forms and upload a CV so jazzed up, carefully chiselled, agonisingly remodelled, rejuvenated, tightened up and vavavoomed it could practically run off with a much older Russian oligarch all on its wee own...

On the 'making-lemonade-with lemons' side I suppose I'm getting another taste of what it must be like to be 22 now - minus the youth, slenderness and sexual appeal, of course. 

It is the start of the rest of my life, a time to explore who I really am and what what I really want to do from now on, I grant you that. And I'm far for unique. A lot of people, including in early middle age, are going through this recalibration and soul-searching as I write. Thirty eight per cent of movies are about this topic, (I've just decided to make this up), one way or another. It's just that this process looks lot more enjoyable in films.  

After a few dramatic scenes of despondency and melancholia the heroine, who's been battling adversity of some kind or other, but mainly has been unable to find herself and what she really cares about, transitions to ultimate fulfilment via a music sequence featuring some or all of these scenes in the following order:

1) heroine smiling in the rain,
2) smelling a blooming flower,
3) painting a wall,
4) falling off a bike,
5) getting paint on herself as the man in her life kisses her,
6) walking on a beach,
7) some vague classroom volunteering shot, smiling children with their hands up, 
8) heroine managing, wobbingly, to stay on a bike,
9) observing the beautifully redecorated room - hand on her hips - still wearing paint-splattered fatigues,
10) opening an important letter, 
11) the obligatory dinner party in the newly done up room with cheering friends toasting the content of the important letter,
12) heroine walking towards the ship that's about to sail/into the corner office where her new desk is/on the stage as the curtains open... you get the gist. Finally she knows who she is and is allowing herself to be that person and to reach for her dreams. 

The main trouble in my case is that I have always known what I wanted to be, have been lucky enough to do it for a few years and now it basically doesn't exist anymore. I didn't have a back-up plan, mime, say, or a cupcake business, in my back pocket. 

The problem is not that I was too timid to pursue my dreams or failed to achieve them: I simply outlived them by about 25 working years. So I'm essentially looking for the Next Best Thing. This is not the agony and the ecstasy of finding romance. This is dating in widowhood.  But I digress.

Another notable difference between myself and - say - my former interns is that, while the 22 year olds are battling the perception of their lack of experience and often find themselves trapped in a revolving-door spin of unpaid internships in order to make contacts, I have tonnes of great contacts, oodles of them.

Some of them do reach out and say the most encouraging things. You are so professional, experienced and lovely, they say, in fact would you be interested in becoming a Trustee, rejoining the Committee, lending a hand in the campaign while you wait for the next big job to materialise? 

Unfortunately in a lot of cases when they ask you if you are free they really do mean, it turns out, would you do it for nothing? There's great social cache potentially attached in going with the flow, but not a great deal of, you know, cashflow.

If only Virgin Media, O2, Transport for London, Sainsbury, NPower and so on  didn't still stubbornly insist to be paid by me for their services. It turns out they don't care that I would make a great contact and that working for me would give them precious experience to enhance their value in the business world (I give great feedback, honest!) so I do not have the luxury to agree to do the same.

This calls for the judicious but decisive deployment of the F word. Yes, I mean 'Fee'. It's ugly, I now, but life ain't that pretty anyway, when all is said and done.

Watch this space.


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  2. "I have been lucky enough to do it for a few years and now it basically doesn't exist anymore". Exactly. I studied journalism because I wanted to be a journalist, I worked as so just one year and a half, before the big crisis started...2008-2009. Now that is gone and what can we do? It's soooo annoying! Shall we trust Mr. Amazon to sort us out and come up with a new business model for papers? Who knows... but working for free is depressing, seriously depressing. I now understand that it isn't better to work for free than to not work at all...! I send you a massive hug from Paris

  3. Hang in there my dear - you have another 40 years to go......